Last year, the day before their debut full length album came out I was fortunate to meet and interview Warpaint.
I’ve met some really good people in my time- both famous and non famous; however no person has ever been such an honour to speak to as Theresa Wayman. She is well and truly one of the most loveliest and genuine persons I have ever met. Her answers to my questions were passionate and hilarious. The way she tells you a story just captures you so much. I was just in awe of everything about Theresa. I took in every single word she said as I sat next to her on the sofa. Oh and she has the best pin-striped trousers and boots ever. In fact, all members of Warpaint have amazing boots. Extremely well dressed indeed.
I’ve pretty much taken procrastination to a different level by only typing the interview up until now. However, I am not going to type it as a typical Q&A. Those Q&A articles are boring, you need substance with an article and that’s what I am going to try to do. Besides, you need to know about my love for Warpaint and why I love them. If someone sat me down and said, “Olivia, tell me about your love for Warpaint” they would probably leave as I could go on for hours, days as to why I love them.
I first heard of Warpaint around 2 years ago. I heard Billie Holiday and it just threw me. I loved how bare and stripped it was. I was utterly enthralled by the vocals and how it just flowed. I loved how they sang “B.I.L.L.I.E H.O.L.I.D.A.Y” it just sounded so perfect, so relaxing. Almost like a lullaby.
Fast forward to about a year after I heard of Warpaint, I then heard Undertow. Well, that was it really. Nothing mattered at all. It was my song of 2010, and The Fool was my favourite album of 2010 also. I just couldn’t believe music like this was being created. More importantly, I was so happy that a female group was creating music as powerful as this.
I’ve seen on various websites and blogs that girls are inspired by Warpaint to pick up an instrument and start bands. It’s good to see an all female group using talent rather than relying on gimmicks to sell their music to people.
Warpaint are easy to “get.” There’s no pretentious feel to their music, you don’t have to come from a certain background to enjoy their music, and you don’t have to be anything or anyone to be a fan. You can’t look at someone and think, “Oh they’re a Warpaint fan.”
I get it all the time, just because I wear black all the time I’m supposed to listen to Cradle of Filth or some shit. Fuck that.
I asked Theresa where the name Warpaint came from. I’m always intrigued as to where bands get their names from. Emily came up with it. Other names they had were, Notes From The Underground, and my personal favourite I Love You. I suppose if they stuck with I Love You it could get confusing as I told Theresa. “Who are you going to see?” “‘I Love You.’ ” “Thanks, but who are you going to see?” It’d just cause people getting confused and thinking someone was declaring their love to them, and they’d just feel foolish wouldn’t they really.
Aside from how bands get their names, I always love hearing stories on how bands meet. Some meet in bars, some reply to ads in music publications, some are just thrown together in school and the rest is well history as they say.
So, how did they meet?
“Through friends, and living in the city. Pretty quickly actually. After we all moved there, we met each other (LA). You spot people, especially in LA, in Hollywood that are like you in a crowd, like-minded. I think it’s safe to say we’re not typical LA girls. The way we live now, we are typical and we’re not typical.”
She then mentioned how she, Emily, Jenny and Stella were staying in a hotel in Dublin- the hotel was connected to a bar and restaurant, and they came downstairs at around 6pm ish for some food and to use the internet- dressed in sweatpants and pyjamas. It then turned into a nightclub and it was full of girls everywhere in mini-skirts. Theresa went into the bathroom, and there were some girls in bathroom re-applying make-up and talking about boys, and she said, “They were definitely giving me some looks. I looked like a slob and I didn’t have my hairbrush so I had a big knot in the back of my hair.”
Let’s be honest here, I doubt Theresa and the others could ever look like slobs. Besides, I’d rather see them than a bunch of girls in mini-skirts.
One of the many things I love about Warpaint is the length of their songs. I love songs that last over 5 minutes and send you off into this relaxing place where the real world cannot touch you. Nothing matters as you just totally lose yourself in the world that this piece of music taken you to. Songs like Beetles and Elephants just send you into a whirlwind. Songs like Baby and Lissie’s Heart Murmur feel like a lullaby. Every song of theirs fills you with such grand emotions and the ability to take you anywhere, it is that powerful. You can make your own meanings up to the songs.
I still use Undertow as the song I go to when everything just seems too much, the line “I laid on the floor. Pressing in my eyes, seeing little lights. Please light these decisions that only one could make. I wanted to stay home but I went running running running running from the troubles.” I could never find words good enough to fully express what this verse means to me, no words could do it justice. The amount of times where I have found it impossible to sleep, so I just play Warpaint on my headphones in the dark- listening to Undertow is ridiculous. It’s like some kind of comfort blanket most of the time. I know I’m making myself out to be a wuss, maybe I am.
Anyone who has seen Warpaint live (I have yet to) has witnessed the little jam sessions they have at the end of Beetles and Elephants, it’s just utterly mind-blowing.
As frequently pointed out in various publications, Warpaint are SURPRISE SURPRISE female. Shock! Horror! Girls….playing instruments! I asked Theresa if the band had experienced sexism in the music industry at all. Some may think people are more open-minded now, but trust me- they’re not.
“I have noticed that in-house soundmen, when you first arrive are grumpy. It’s funny. I’m not trying to diss them, I love soundmen, but it’s true. I’ve noticed on more than one occasion people are dismissive of that maybe we don’t know what we’re doing. But after the show, for the most part their tune is changed.”
I hope anyone who thinks Warpaint cannot play or know what they are doing based on their gender feels like a massive idiot.
Warpaint are more than band-mates and best friends. They are clearly like family. I remember walking into the venue to meet them, and the way they were with each was just beautiful.
They love each other, and they have so much love for what they do. This lacks in a lot of bands (past and present). When you can see how much a band love what they do, and each other it just transpires into their music. The way they just get lost in the music that they play is inspiring, it makes you get lost in it too. It makes you feel the music even more.
With just one full length album Warpaint have done so much. Their acoustic performance on BBC3 last year for Reading gained them a fair amount of attention and this year’s performance at Glastonbury and Coachella just blew people away- both old fans and people just wandering around seeing who was on.
Bands such as Warpaint don’t come around often, but when they do it is important you just embrace it. Accept that this band will change your life, they will be your life. As a music obsessive, this is entirely how I feel about Warpaint. Without their music, I have no idea what I would do. Warpaint’s music just breathes life into you when you feel, well, shit I suppose. It makes you feel alive and it makes you want to change everything for the better. That’s the remarkable thing about music, it gives you strength and courage.
For me, Warpaint are more than just a band. I just feel so honoured to have met them and to have spoken to Theresa about the band and music. It was truly one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
I’ve always heard people say you should never meet your heroes, I’ve met mine several times and they’ve all been brilliant experiences. However, with Warpaint it just felt like everything made sense. Any feeling of wanting to give up on being a Music Writer just went away. Of course there are times when I just want to stop doing it due to my own harsh self criticisms and self frustrations, but I just play some Warpaint songs and my love for music and writing about it comes back. Things like that are priceless. Things like that just keep me going. Again, more proof that music is such a powerful force that I don’t think many recognise.